During his coverage of the Bosnian genocide and the Balkan conflict, Sacco worked with a rather shady character known as a “fixer” – someone who can aDuring his coverage of the Bosnian genocide and the Balkan conflict, Sacco worked with a rather shady character known as a “fixer” – someone who can assist foreign journalists with gaining access to the frontlines of the conflict, the warlords and gangs running the countryside as the nation is torn apart, and victims to provide stories to color the news articles being written about the region.
Sacco’s “fixer”, known as Neveen, was a former solider involved in the conflict if not the genocide itself, although he claims to support the multiculturalism of the former Yugoslavia. He knows exactly who to talk to in order to help Sacco find the best sources; he knows exactly what to do to extract the highest price for his services.
Nearly ten years later, Sacco returns to Sarajevo intent on meeting up with his former fixer. His focus in this short graphic memoir is not the conflict itself but rather the “fixers” and how the new Bosnian government has decided to deal with the people who profited in a time of war.
The history and the timeline are rather muddled in the memoir as Sacco alternates between the past, the present, and the memories Neveen claims to have, but I found that to be the most beautiful aspect of the book. How do journalists determine truth and lies? How do journalists inform and construct their narratives?
Sacco readily admits that he cannot verify Neveen’s claims that he is a Serb who did not join the Serbian Army, that he singlehandedly blew up multiple tanks. And, instead, he presents such stories as shades of grey allowing the reader to understand how complicated truth and reconciliation are following genocide and war.
I wish the narrative had slowed a bit and Sacco had included more background information. The shades of grey become a bit overwhelming without much firm truth to ground yourself in, and it was not always clear from the drawings exactly where in time and space or which person was the focus. (Particularly problematic when there are two people with the same name.) But I appreciate the book for what it did offer and I certainly would like to read more of Sacco’s work in the future. ...more
Since a 2000 earthquake opened cracks in the lakebed, Lake Kleifarvatn has lost nearly twenty percent of its surface revealing trash, remnants, and aSince a 2000 earthquake opened cracks in the lakebed, Lake Kleifarvatn has lost nearly twenty percent of its surface revealing trash, remnants, and a skeleton dating from the Cold War of the 1960s with a large hole in the skull. Attached to the skeleton is a heavy communication device – possibly a radio transmitter – bearing inscriptions in Russian, and Inspectors Erlendur, Elínborg and Sigurður Óli begin to suspect the body might belong to one of the Russian spies that infiltrated the island nation during the height of the Cold War in order to report on the American military base.
Interspersed with the present-day investigation are the recollections of a time with left-wing students would be sent from Iceland to study in communist East Germany by the Icelandic Communist Party. These recollections begin with the arrival of the narrator in East Germany continuing through the students’ disenfranchisement with the communist cause until the narrative pulls together to explain the present-day mystery. Clearly, one of these students is the skeleton found in Lake Kleifarvatn and the reader is meant to be kept on their toes as to who it might be.
This is supposed to be the sixth book in Indriðason’s series – the fourth translated in English – but it read like it was meant to be the first in the series. Erlendur and the rest of his team are introduced to the reader as though they are unfamiliar to the reader, and some of the details added to their characters in this novel made the characters feel entirely new. Elínborg has an interest in cooking – a detail I cannot remember from previous books – and produced a cookbook; Erlendur has reunited with his son for the first time, but I could have sworn he made an appearance in an earlier novel. (Maybe an argument for reading the series in order rather than the haphazard jumping around I’ve been engaged in.)
I do not normally read novels about the Cold War, although I am interested in the time period, but I cannot say this book stood out amongst those I have read set in that particular time period. The novel presents the events in the past in a way that felt bereft of emotion, structured and, well, formulaic in its presentation of communist East Germany.
Unfortunately, these past recollections splice the novel so poorly that they interrupt the flow of the narrative and tarnished the mystery on either side of the timeline. I tried my best to focus on the present-day mystery and the characters I have come to enjoy but there was little there to sustain my enjoyment until the end. I finished the mystery not entirely sure I had solved the whodunit in my mind because Indriðason tried to do too much in this mystery and, unfortunately, it failed to meet the high standards I have come to associate with his work....more
Subtitled “Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me”, Forney’s memoir chronicles her diagnosis with bipolar disorder, her attempts to find the right foSubtitled “Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me”, Forney’s memoir chronicles her diagnosis with bipolar disorder, her attempts to find the right formula of medication, and her struggles to reconcile the source of her creativity (which Forney believes to be her manic phases) with her identity as an artist. She spends some time detailing the famous artists who were either diagnosed with or believed to have bipolar disorder – Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, etc – and the way these artists were institutionalized as they cycled through depression to mania and back again or made multiple suicide attempts as she debates medication versus creativity.
This deeply personal memoir addresses a subject often spoken in hushed whispers with such humor and wit that even in her darkest moments, Forney manages to make her readers see the spark of creativity lurking beneath. There is something so beautiful about the candid and frank way she discusses mental health, sexuality, growing older, and the changing of friendships that accompany every major shift in an individual’s life.
The style of her drawings follow the swings of her bipolar disorder – crazy jumbles at the height of her mania, listless pencil drawings during the deepest part of her depression – and I particular enjoyed her use of darkness and light to represent these so-called phases. One of the most poignant panels in the comic was the distorted shape of her own hand – dark and clawed versus light with fingers curled into an okay sign – as she asks:
“Is bipolar disorder a curse, a source of misery and pain? A dangerous, often life-threatening disease? Or an inextricable even essential part of many creative personalities? A source of inspiration and profound artistic work?”
The way she frames this question, the way she places it in the context of other artists helps to capture the fear such a diagnosis can bring. I started recommending this book to friends even before I finished it because I just loved the way she handled the topic and the way her drawings compliment and contradict her topic. A great example of how comics can be a medium for topics normally considered forbidden and misunderstood....more
Burma, also known as Myanmar, has been ruled by a military junta since a coup in 1962 and has largely been demonized by the governments of Western couBurma, also known as Myanmar, has been ruled by a military junta since a coup in 1962 and has largely been demonized by the governments of Western countries, particularly the United States. The ruling generals use isolation as a tool of social control – censors monitor the papers and remove stories with scissors, the leader of the opposition won a Nobel Peace Prize but is kept under a decade-long house arrest, and insurgent-controlled regions are cut off from the world and the rest of the country.
Delisle traveled to the country with his wife and toddler son after his wife receives a posting from Doctors Without Borders (referred within the text by its French acronym, MSF). The organization is trying to open up clinics in the less populated, poorer regions of the country, although the government is stalling the efforts in an attempt to keep resources within their control, and Delisle spends much of the year he lived in the country in Yangon alone working on comics and caring for his young son.
As unsettling as I find Delisle’s evident animosity towards the way his child interrupts his work, something about being a father seems to made him more adventurous. Unlike the travelogues written when Delisle was single, this one is never encumbered by boredom or a refusal to overcome language barriers. He readily admits that his son, Louis, opens up opportunities he would not normally have to interact with residents of the country – people always seem to go gaga over an infant – but he seems to be more excited about the prospect of exploring the country now that he has become a father.
Instead of shutting himself off in his hotel room and trying to make bleak connections between reality and fiction, he travels to multiple attractions within the city, develops a new obsession with figuring out how to pass by Aung San Suu Kyi’s house during his daily walks with son, and is eager to visit the more rural parts of the country with his wife on an MSF-sanctioned trip. He still longs for the comforts of home and tries to devise a plan to get him and his family passes to the Australians-only club, but he seems to take a more self-deprecating view of Westerns such as himself in the country.
There are Westerns such as his wife in the country attempting to do good (i.e. bring medicine and clinics to underserved populations), but there are others willing to turn a blind eye to the poverty and the regime’s suppression in order to extract oil who live in mini-estates with guards. Yet all of them want to belong to the beautifully maintained compounds like the Australians-only club Delisle becomes obsessed with and all of them are willing to engage in the same dance with the regime in order to get what they want. This presentation brings up several contradictions and questions for the reader to ponder over.
Delisle continues to utilize black and white pencil drawings, but his drawings in this book were probably the best out of the four travelogues by him that I have read. I really felt like I was able to appreciate the beauty of the pagodas, experience the heat of the omnipresent sun, and understand the bleakness of life under such a controlling regime. On the later point, there are several amusing frames where Delisle learns about the bird flu through a rumor from an employee of the World Health Organization and then proceeds to freak out about the potential pandemic because the government strictly controls both the news and the import of Tamiflu. It was a nice blend of political commentary with the realities of everyday life....more
Once again, Delisle is hired by an animation company to oversee the animation office outsourced to an Asian country. This time, he spends a few monthsOnce again, Delisle is hired by an animation company to oversee the animation office outsourced to an Asian country. This time, he spends a few months living in an urban city in southern China located near Hong Kong but sealed off from the rest of the country by electric fences and armed guards. Such conditions were unknown to me before picking up this book and likely are indicative of how the book was first published fourteen years ago.
Much of the book focuses on the sense of isolation such conditions engender in both visitors and residents of the city. Delisle tries to draw out a connection to Dante’s descent to hell presenting Shenzhen’s economic zone as the second wrung from haven. The city provides a level of economic prosperity not found in the countryside, but there are still aspects Delisle views as dirty and backwards (public open pit toilets, for example) and he plans multiple “escapes” to Hong Kong where stores and restaurants feel more familiar to him. This literary connection felt weaker than the one he made between Nineteen Eighty-Four and North Korea, although that could be because I have not read Dante’s work, and his high praise of Hong Kong due to its more Westernized construction presented him as the kind of tourist I loathe.
Much of his boredom seemed to stem from Delisle being unable to find someone to converse with, although he did not bother to try to learn Chinese, and unfortunately this feeling of boredom seeped into the story. Interestingly, he was still invited to dinner at his coworkers’ homes even though few of them could converse with him without the aid of his translator (who did not always attend said dinners) and another called dozens of friends to locate a specific brand of tea Delisle requested because the host did not have it on hand. Yet such stunning displays of hospitality were often ridiculed by the author and the book as a whole failed to capture the insight into his host country I have come to expect with his travelogues.
Minor quibble but the letter ‘o’ was often drawn as an incomplete circle and there were multiple points during my reading where I wondered if he meant to write ‘o’ or ‘u’. This was especially problematic when it came to his use of Chinese words as I did not out the error until it appeared he wrote ‘Rumania’ instead of ‘Romania’. ...more
North Korea, often referred to in America as part of the “Axis of Evil”, is one of the most secluded, mysterious, and poorest nations in the world. HiNorth Korea, often referred to in America as part of the “Axis of Evil”, is one of the most secluded, mysterious, and poorest nations in the world. Hired by a French film company to oversee its animation office in North Korea, Delisle spent months living in one of the country’s few hotels and traveling around the city with a translator and a guide.
These two people were tasked with keeping Delisle away from the North Koreans, away from any narrative that does not conform to the image put forth by the statues, portraits, and propaganda of the country’s leaders, Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il – the world's only Communist dynasty.
Delisle brought along a copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four – his only source of non-state sanctioned entertainment – and much of the book draws comparisons between the fictional dystopian world of Orwell’s novel and the reality Delisle stepped into when he accepted this animation job. He is very decisive in his presentation of the country possessing little empathy for the people living under the regime or understanding that the regiment way they perform their jobs might be a response to knowledge they have about the regime that he does not. At one point, he schemes to shake off his guide and translator without concern that losing tabs on him might lead to grave consequences for his guide or his translator.
The way his translator and guide keep him secluded from the North Koreans – he works alone in an office, he stays in a hotel where only one floor is opened and filled with foreigners – may have contributed to this lack of empathy or understanding for the North Koreans. But while he points out how odd it is that his solitary walk through the city does not attract notice from a single North Korean, he does not offer them the benefit of the doubt that their lack of interest may be a tool of self-preservation. Talking to a foreigner without approval would likely be seen as a subversive action.
His black and white pencil drawings capture the starkness of Pyongyang, and I enjoyed looking over the small details he captured about the bizarre museums and monuments he was taken to. One museum is completely dedicated to the evils of life in Western countries yet neither his guide nor his translator had any interest in taking him to museum dedicated to the superiority of life in North Korea. Within these panels, he manages to both capture and respond to the propaganda being presented to him.
His travelogue provides interesting insight into the country and into the experience – separate, unable to converse with ordinary North Koreans – Western foreigners would likely have if they choose to visit. I also enjoyed his insight into globalization because who would have thought China would lose contracts to mass produce animation for a French company to North Korea? But the North Koreans work for less pay than the Chinese, although Delisle has very little praise for their work, and companies will do anything to reduce the costs of their inputs....more
In the final installment of Collins’ dystopian series, Katniss Everdeen – the “Girl on Fire”, the Mockingjay – has now become the symbol of a revolutiIn the final installment of Collins’ dystopian series, Katniss Everdeen – the “Girl on Fire”, the Mockingjay – has now become the symbol of a revolution following her disastrous rescue from the destroyed arena of the Quarter Quell. Separated from Peeta and Johanna, Katniss is reunited with her mother, sister, and Gale in the one district the Capital claimed to have destroyed and utilized as an example of what could occur in the other twelve districts did not obey.
Yet District Thirteen, which used to provide the Capital with its military technology, had merely gone underground bidding its time and preparing for war once the other districts decided to rise up against the Capital. Led by President Cain, the district wants to utilize Katniss in order to keep the momentum towards revolution going and are willing to bend to her demands – that Peeta and Johanna be pardoned of all crimes, that her sister get to keep her cat, that Katniss gets to kill President Snow – in order to finally take down the capital.
My reaction to Collins’ series has been rather mixed. I loved the first book in the series but found the wait for the second heavily dampened my appreciation of it when I finally got my hands on a copy, and then I waited four years after publication to finally read the conclusion. This might be one of the rare instances where I like the film adaptations more than the books as the films add more intrigue and characterization that the original books do.
Katniss is one of the more difficult narrators I have encountered. I love that the protagonist is a narrator, but Collins does not have a very good handle on her narrator and the present tense she tells the story in. Her narration lacks the immediacy and the intimacy often found with present tense. This lack of intimacy affects the emotional range Katniss possess; the love triangle feels rather a forced as a result.
I also find Katniss is far too meta for her own good because rather than allowing the symbolism offered by our first-person narrator to speak for herself, she insists upon explaining how the metaphor or the symbolism represents her in that moment. Trapped in an underground bunker and unable to leave, Katniss entertains the other residents of District 13 with a game of “Crazy Cat” where she shines a flashlight against the wall in enticement for the cat to chase it. She then goes on to explain how this game represents the game she is involved in with President Snow, how the people of the other twelve districts were trapped and distracted from rising up by the Hunger Games.
Personally, I found this explanation (which is an example of a larger phenomenon throughout the text) to be unnecessary and a bit like sitting through English courses in school where the teacher would insist upon analyzing the obvious. The novel is, of course, geared towards young adults but I think Collins underestimates the reading comprehension of her readers. Not everything needs to be spelled out and explained.
My favorite aspect of this novel is the ambiguous conclusion of the conflict. Katniss’ struggle for truth in an area that is not black and white and the manipulation of her image for the sake of war is one the more important lessons about war that Collins can teach her young readers. Too bad much of it was overshadowed by a poorly constructed and executed love triangle which, again, I think the film has handled better....more
Harry Potter’s name is said reverence and excitement because Harry Potter is ‘The Boy Who Lived’. Yet ten-year-old Harry Potter has no idea how famousHarry Potter’s name is said reverence and excitement because Harry Potter is ‘The Boy Who Lived’. Yet ten-year-old Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is in the magical world his horrid aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, are determined to keep him ignorant of and no idea why attempts to contact him via a letter have the Dursleys in an uproar. On his eleventh birthday, a large man by the name of Hagrid arrives to inform him that Harry is a wizard. A rather famous one at that who has been accepted to the premiere wizarding school in the United Kingdom, Hogwarts.
Equal parts confused and excited, Harry travels to Hogwarts from Kings Cross Station’s Platform 9 ¾ quickly becoming friends with Ron Weasley, youngest son of the large Weasley family. He begins courses with his housemates, including the know-it-all Hermione Granger, and becomes entranced by the magic of this new world. Yet dark magic lingers at Hogwarts and within Harry, who learns he the only person to survive an attack by Voldemort (who is referred to in hushed whispers as ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’), and Harry and new friends embark upon a dangerous adventure to locate the Sorcerer’s Stone before it can fall into the wrong hands.
Confession: The first time I read this book, I read only a few chapters before I asked my third grade teacher if I could return it to the school library and choose another book. Witches and wizards held no interest for a little girl interested in history and the American Girl dolls, and I avoided the series until the first movie was released when suddenly everyone was reading and discussing the series.
At twenty-three, I still believe this book to be the weakest one in the series. I have always remembered the wait for Harry to receive his letter to Hogwarts to be a bit of, well, a slog, and rereading it now I can understand why my younger self asked for a different book. I was perpetually bugged by the incessant insistence that certain characters are good and others are bad without much explanation other than house-based prejudice. There is nothing truly remarkable about the main characters in the first few chapters – Hermione is a know it all, Harry is learning about this world at the same pace as the reader, Ron feels slighted by his family, and Draco is a bully – and I am assuming that is entirely the point.
The setting is supposed to be the truly remarkable thing; the characters merely the vehicles in which the reader can imagine themselves there. The magic comes when Harry and friends learn, well, magic; the excitement of the setting comes during a quidditch match and when the Golden Trio engages in a series of magical tests to find the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Unfortunately, this excitement is tempered by the way the final battle in this particular novel is interrupted for the reader. All my questions and interests in the world of Harry Potter were left unfairly suspended as Rowlings raced to wrap of the first year of Harry’s education. Fifteen years later, I was still unable to forge the fanatical connection others I know have with this particular book in the series hence my less than ecstatic review. (If memory serves me correctly, though, the darker the series gets, the more I enjoyed it.) ...more
Born to a Lebanese Christian family in 1981, the Lebanese Civil War has been a constant part of Abirached’s life and it seems almost normal that the cBorn to a Lebanese Christian family in 1981, the Lebanese Civil War has been a constant part of Abirached’s life and it seems almost normal that the city of Beirut is cut into two – East Beirut for Christians and West Beirut for Muslims – by bricks and sandbags. Snipers and artillery bombings keep people from leaving in the windowless rooms of their homes; soldiers and checkpoints keep people from traveling across the dividing line between the two Beiruts.
Abirached’s short memoir documents one evening during the middle of the war when her parents fail to return one afternoon from a visit to her grandmother on the other half of the city. Neighbors come to sit with Abirached and her brother, to distract them from the bombings and the fear with games and stories as they wait and hope and pray for her parents to return unharmed. Others offer to go searching for Abirached’s family putting themselves in danger in order to help maintain one family through the perils of war.
Abirached alternates between the past and the present as she introduces the history of her neighbors as they enter the apartment one by one. It offers a taste of the larger picture of war and how it impacts everyone in different ways, but her main characters – her and her brother – are largely ignored as they sit in silence. This certainly reflects how children in scary situations behaved yet I found it created a barrier between me and the story she was trying to tell. It is not quite a history book; not quite a memoir.
The style employed by Abirached in her memoir reminded me of that used by Marjane Satrapi; her comics utilize the same curls and heavy inking I remember from Satrapi’s memoir. I found it difficult to imagine the small foyer Abirached and her neighbors were confined to, particularly in relation to the rest of the apartment complex. It seemed too small to hold all those people yet too large to be called a foyer. Although, one of my favorite panels was the one where she documented how the threat of the unseen snipers slowly pulled the family out of the rooms in the rest of their apartment.
Her choice to focus on a single night was a rather curious one. It certainly could not capture the scope of the entire civil war and there is little context and history to learn from this memoir, which I was chagrined to find because I know so little about the Lebanese Civil War. However, one night demonstrates how war can interrupt something as simple as seeing an elderly relative, how events in one’s life can change within only a few hours. ...more
I am horribly addicted to Coca Cola. I can easily down six or seven cans (or, their equivalent at a restaurant) without batting an eye, which obviouslI am horribly addicted to Coca Cola. I can easily down six or seven cans (or, their equivalent at a restaurant) without batting an eye, which obviously places me in the “heavy user” category by The Coca Cola Company.
I have tried many times over the past six years to kick the habit going cold turkey for ten weeks or ten months until I convince myself that my birthday or graduation or general stress or the fact that I do not smoke or drink means I should be able to have a can of Coke. Of course, one leads to one a day and then one a day leads to a can of Coke with my morning snack, my lunch, my dinner, and before bed. (And then I wonder why I can’t fall asleep.)
I know Coca Cola is bad for me; I have read multiple books arguing against the product based solely on health. But I still struggle not to reach for the product at every turn, and I had hoped in picking up this book that Blanding would offer an argument to help compel me to pick the habit once and for all. Unfortunately, the book relies on a narrative constructed for the filmiest strings and failed to convince me that Coke is worse for anything but my own personal health.
Blanding’s argument takes a three prong approach: Coca-Cola’s use of advertising to promote its unhealthy product, the relationship with its bottlers and links to paramilitary groups in Colombia, and water in both the bottled form and the production of its flagship products. The first prong was the most interesting and the most convincing, although I was largely familiar with the history of Coca-Cola and its use of advertisement. Clearly, utilizing Santa and adorable polar bears are going to teach children that the product is good for them because the associate good with those images.
But my interest during this section was piqued as Blanding detailed the ironclad, exclusive contracts public schools districts signed with Coca Cola in the United States. We had vending machines for Coca Cola products in my public middle school and public high school with varying access rules (i.e. only on afterschool in middle school) and the argument was that selling these products help cash strapped schools finance their students education. However, Blanding cites multiple examples and combs through several contracts to show how untrue this claim is.
The last two prongs, especially the sections on the death of union leaders in South America, are where the argument begins to fall apart. Blanding attempts to draw a direct line where one does not exist, and I found it difficult to follow his logic as he argued that Coca Cola was responsible for a manager of its bottling plant (which is a separate entity from the flagship corporation) fighting against a union in such despicable ways. I mean, no company wants to encourage their workers to unionize but that does not mean they are circling internal memos instructing their managers to kill union organizers. Fire them, yes, but I doubt kill them. Blanding readily admits that his proof is weak, that other companies in Colombia engaged in far worse tactics.
Bottled water is a crock; the product is rarely cleaner than tap water and provides no added benefits. In fact, the plastic bottles contribute to the trashing of our environment and require massive amounts of energy inputs including oil to produce. However, I have read more convincing and detailed arguments against bottled water than the one presented in this book, which read like an addition to stretch out a tired argument. There was nothing new or groundbreaking within the text about this particular product of the Coca Cola Company or about the company in general.
I listened to the audiobook read by George K. Wilson, whose monotone voice failed to make the subject matter more interesting or engaging. Even the chapters on Colombia’s civil war and the violence there were read in the same tone as the legal examination of Coca Cola’s contracts with public schools....more
Twice widowed, Fanny Lapp is busy juggling housework, raising her children and step-children, and assisting the doctor who serves her Amish communityTwice widowed, Fanny Lapp is busy juggling housework, raising her children and step-children, and assisting the doctor who serves her Amish community with each homebirth. Without a husband and with several small children to care for, the responsibilities for repairing and maintaining her home and barn have fallen to the wayside. The bishop has sent Zed Miller, who recently returned to the community after leaving during his rumspringa, to assist the Lapp family and help turn Fanny’s barn into a birthing center for the Amish community.
Meg Harper is hiding out at her sister’s restaurant near Fanny’s community waiting for the state’s licensing board to decide whether or not to revoke her midwifery license following a tragic birth. Shaken by the death of her patient’s infant, Meg is considering swearing off midwifery and resents her sister for offering her services when an Amish man arrives in town frantically looking for the doctor. Yet Meg finds herself drawn to the beauty of birth once again and becomes determined to work with Fanny to help realize her dream for a comfortable, safe place for Amish women to give birth.
This book is the third in a series. I read the first back in 2013 and skipped the second yet I never felt as though missing the second impacted my enjoyment of the third. In fact, I was quite drawn to the story until I reached the halfway point and set it aside for a bit to finish a different novel for my book club. Upon my return, I struggled to remember exactly why I was so enamored with the tale or felt so connected with the characters.
Meg, in particular, seemed to lack the spark (or angst) she possessed at the beginning of the novel, and I found her sections rather tiresome. (To be perfectly honest, I’m rather over the insertion of non-Amish characters into novels focused on the Amish considering how centrist it is to the Amish faith to avoid contact with outsiders.)
My waning attention could also be attributed to how the focus on midwifery was abandoned for a conventional romance novel. Birth seemed to be the item that would tie the two stories together yet it was quickly forgotten after the idea of a birth center was introduced and agreed upon by the Amish community.
Yet out of all the authors who write Amish novels that I have read, Lauer’s writing is among the strongest out there. Her words convey beauty and emotion, and I never felt as though the dialog was clunky or forced. The novel may have become rather predictable but at least it was rather well-written. ...more